Johnson says: world needs pandemic treaty to ensure transparency

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chief Medical Officer for England Chris Whitty arrive for a coronavirus pandemic media briefing at Downing Street, London, Britain February 15, 2021. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Pool via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that world powers should clinch a global treaty on pandemics to ensure proper transparency after the novel coronavirus outbreak which originated in China.

Asked by Reuters who he held responsible for any lack of transparency on the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson said: “I think its fairly obvious that most of the evidence seems to point to the disease having originated in Wuhan.”

“Therefore we all need to see as much as we possibly can about how that might have happened, the zoonotic questions that people are asking. I think we need as much data as possible,” he said.

Johnson said he would be keen to sign a global treaty on pandemics, where signatory countries signed up to a joint agreement on transparency and agreed to contribute any data they have in the future.

“I think what the world needs to see is a general agreement on how we track data surrounding zoonotic pandemics,” he said.

“I think one of the attractive ideas we have seen in the last few months is a proposal for a global treaty on pandemics.”

The COVID-19 outbreak, which was first detected in China in late 2019, has killed 2.4 million people, tipped the global economy into its worst peacetime slump since the Great Depression and upended normal life for billions of people.

Britain’s foreign minister Dominic Raab said on Sunday he shared U.S. concerns about the level of access given to a World Health Organization COVID-19 fact-finding mission to China, while Johnson has said he supports U.S. President Joe Biden in his the need for more data from the investigation.

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